I've Been Screened!

Tomorrow is the first mass screening of SoM students. This new initiative is to make sure they are “safe” to work with minors. (Notice “minors,” not “miners”. Nobody needs to be screened to work with miners. Who would mess with them?) I applaud the idea. Think it is prudent. Wise. Safe. I also hate the idea. Detest it. Loath it. Cringe at the thought of spending hours trying to make students relax. All while asking them the most unrelaxing questions. Questions like:

“Have you been arrested for, well… you know. Doing things?”


“When was the last time you thought about, ah… stuff?”


“Ever been thrown in the slammer?” 
“Ever woofed your cookies after swallowing 5 gallons of paint thinner?”

But not as awkward as the first time I had to do it. This was the reward I got for graduating into leader status. And here’s how it went. Someone asked me to help with an interview. I said “Yes.” Then, later, when I arrived, a children’s worker stuffed some papers into my hand and shoved me into a glass-walled office. “Here, interview this 12 year old girl. Oh, and her mother will be with her.” The person then went out, closing the door behind them. I tried to relax. Really. And when the girl and her mother came in I tried hard to make them relax. But the poor girl was so scared that I was jittery. Like someone had just slipped me 15 cappuccinos. Made me feel nasty just asking the questions.

“Have you been arrested, for well… you know?”


Tomorrow, however will be different. This time it is not a 12 year old with her mother. And I have a plan. First, this is going to be a factory, a conveyer belt of efficiency. Just interview them one after another with no time to think about it. Second, the schedule calls for 15 minute intervals. But I will have it down to 3.5 minutes each. Speed reading. No time for anyone to get nervous. In fact, I might just fill out the questions tonight. Write down the answers before I ask them. If prophetic is good for anything, it must be good for this.

Since there are a lot of students who are still struggling with English, the language of “screening” might be raising some questions. I can imagine a few of them.

“Vat do zay mean by beingk ‘skreened?’ Do vee haf doo standt outside ze vindow? Vill I haf little vire sqvares on mine face?” (Great Gordini translation.)

I do sometimes wonder why they call this a “screening”. Maybe it’s because originally, people who failed got thrown through a screen door. Or maybe it’s because all your dirty laundry gets shown around for everyone to see. Sort of like a new movie. Only you don’t pay an admission fee. I don’t know.

All I know is that tomorrow, everybody is going to be screened.